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The Commemoration of the Raising of Lazarus in the Church of the Armenians

Rev. Dr. George A. Leylegian, 1988; revised 2017

THE RAISING OF LAZARUS ARMENIA, LATE 16TH CENTURY Charles Vignier (1863-1934), sold C. Boisgirard & A. de Heeckeren, Hotel Drouot Paris, 21 May 1980, lot 1328

I must begin this article with a very special recollection and thanks to a wonderful presbyter, gentleman, and respected mentor in my life: the Reverend Archpriest George Poulos, pastor of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Archangels in Stamford, Connecticut. In addition to all of his warmth and support of my religious studies, Father Poulos introduced me to many aspects of liturgy. In 1978, as a high school student, I attended his parish church on the Saturday before their calendar’s Palm Sunday. Even though I am Armenian, it was the first time that I had ever heard about – let alone attended a liturgy in commemoration of – the Raising of Lazarus. I was fascinated by two things: first, based upon my experience as an American-Armenian, I was unaware that such a celebration existed, and second, I was so impressed that Father Poulos took the time to offer the Divine Liturgy on this important day. Sadly, not a single Armenian parish in the New World of which I am aware has offered the Holy Eucharist on Lazarus Saturday (although for a time, thanks to our then pastor, the Reverend Archpriest Datev Kaloustian, San Francisco offered the Morning Hour after which we scurried around to decorate the sanctuary for Palm Sunday). It is truly a travesty, and dare I say, an embarrassment for us Armenians in North America that neither our hierarchy nor our parish leadership has any knowledge of – let alone liturgical commitment to – such an important commemoration in our Church. So, thank you “ho Pappas tou khoriou”, my beloved “voice crying in the wilderness”, my dearest Father Poulos, for introducing me to Lazarus. “Efkharisto! Khronia polla!”

Let us now examine Lazarus.

The name Lazarus is the Latin version of the Greek Lazaros, which in turn is from the Hebrew name Eleazar. It may be translated as “God protected him”. In Armenian, it is rendered as “Ghazaros” or “Ghazar”. We note its use twice in the Gospels. First, in Luke 16:19 – 31, we read about the different circumstances for “poor Lazarus” and “the rich man clothed in purple”. Second, in John 11:1 – 46, and again in John 11:55 – 12:11, we read about “Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, and the two sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha”.

Many Biblical scholars contend that the sisters “Mary and Martha” mentioned in John 11 and 12 are identified with the sisters “Mary and Martha” in Luke 10:38 – 42, although in Luke’s citation, there is no reference to a brother. However, in both John’s account and in Luke’s account, Martha is shown to be a very busy hostess when Jesus is seated in her home.

The question before us is whatwe are commemorating on the Saturday before Palm Sunday? Is it accurately, as it is currently identified in the Church Calendar, “the raising of Lazarus from the dead”? Or, is it a separate commemoration?

Respectfully, I agree that the Church must commemorate anevent which includes Lazarus on the Saturday before Palm Sunday.[1] However, I am not convinced that the event which is commemorated is the raising of Lazarus, but rather it is the Sabbath day mealat which the already raised Lazarus hosts his friend, Jesus Christ. The lections at the Synaxis which precedes the Holy Eucharist of Saturday confirm that the celebration of the day is connected with the meal at the home of Lazarus in Bethany (cf. John 11:55 – 12:11). If that is the case, then whenis the day upon which Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead?

The possibility that Jesus raised Lazarus on Sunday – an analysis:

Let us first consider the oldest lectionary layer which indicates that starting on the Feast of Theophany (January 6), the Church opens the Gospel according to John, and reads that Gospel in sequential order through Eastertide. In another article, I have analyzed the current lections which the Church of the Armenians prescribes for the Sundays during the Great Lenten Fast, and believe that the current lections reflect a series of lectures which the fourth-century Church-father, Gregory of Nyssa, delivered on the subject of the Lord’s Prayer. These lectures[2]were delivered at the Ninth Hour of Sunday (approximately 3:00 pm). Therefore, the lections of the Midday Synaxis, the “Jashou”, which precedes the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, more than likely followed the regular Sunday, sequential cycle of Genesis – Isaiah – Pastoral Epistle – John which commences after Theophany.

On the Sunday which precedes Palm Sunday (which currently the Church of the Armenians calls “The Sunday of the Coming” and “the Sixth Sunday of the Great Lenten Fast”), it would appear that the older prescription for lections, based upon the tone of the day (Second Authentic, “Pen-Tza”), and following the continuous reading cycle, would be as follows:

Midday Psalmody – Psalms 65, 66 and 67: responsorial verse Psalm 65:1

Genesis 47:27 – 48:22[3]

Isaiah 65:8 – 66:4

Mesodia Psalm, according to the tone: Psalm 96: verses 1, 2a

Titus 3:1 – 15

Alleluia Psalm, according to the tone: Psalm 47: responsorial verse 1 –

or perhaps Psalm 100 in entirety

John 11:1 – 54

In Isaiah, we hear the prophecy:

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. (65:17 – 19)

Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus, but immediately changed that weeping and sadness into joy and rejoicing.

In Titus, we read the reassurance:

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4 – 7)

Jesus appeared to Martha and to Mary, and in His great mercy, He saved their brother who is also a friend whom He loved. Jesus thereby made Lazarus (and all of us) an heir according to the hope of eternal life when He cried out: “Lazarus, arise! Come out!”

Here is the complete text from John 11:1 – 54:

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

Therefore his sisters sent unto Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.”

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was.

Then after that saith He to His disciples, “Let us go into Judaea again.”

His disciples say unto him, “Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.”

“But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.”

These things said He: and after that He saith unto them, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.”

Then said His disciples, “Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.”

Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that He had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”

“And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.”

Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Then when Jesus came, He found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him: but Mary sat still in the house.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”

“But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”

Jesus saith unto her, “Thy brother shall rise again.”

Martha saith unto Him, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said unto her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

She saith unto Him, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, “The Master is come, and calleth for thee.”

As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto Him.

Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met Him.

The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, “She goeth unto the grave to weep there.”

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him,” Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

And said, “Where have ye laid him?” They said unto Him,” Lord, come and see.”

Jesus wept.

Then said the Jews, “Behold how He loved him!”

And some of them said, “Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?”

Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

Jesus said, “Take ye away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him,” Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”

Jesus saith unto her, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.”

“And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”

And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”[4]

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him.

But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, “What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.”

“If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.”

And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, “Ye know nothing at all,”

“Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.”

And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

And not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him to death.

Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with His disciples.

Why would the raising of Lazarus be celebrated on that Sunday? For me, it would seem logical for several reasons. First, as I have described, the sequential reading of John brings us to that Gospel pericope which describes the coming of Jesus Christ to Bethany, and the subsequent raising of Lazarus from the tomb.

Second, immediately following the raising of Lazarus, according to the Gospel account (John 11:46ff), some of the people go to tell the Jewish authorities what has happened. At that point, the chief priests and the Pharisees convene a council (John 11:47). As the high priest, it is highly improbable that Caiaphas would have allowed the observance of the Sabbath Day to be violated by convening a public council; instead, he would more than likely have chosen a working day in the week to hold such a meeting. For the Jews, “the first day of the week” (what we now call Sunday) is a working day.

Third, and perhaps most important, theologically there is a greater significance if the raising of a dead man occurs on the very day of the week which subsequently the Church has deemed to be the weekly celebration of the Resurrection. Every Sunday for us is considered to be a “little Easter”, and the calling of Lazarus out of the darkness of the tomb into the light of day, out of the sleep of death and into life everlasting, would theologically be best celebrated on a Sunday.

What further evidence might corroborate that the “Raising of Lazarus” was anciently commemorated on the Sunday preceding Palm Sunday? There are two, primary references to the raising of Lazarus in the hymns of the Sixth Sunday of Lent: in the “Orhnootyoon Sharagan” (the Cantemus Hymn during the Nighttime Hour of Prayer), there are four verses which describe the raising of Lazarus[5], and in the “Voghormya Sharagan” (the Miserere Hymn during the Morning Hour of Prayer) there is one verse which describes the raising of Lazarus. It is true that another set of hymns have been composed for Saturday,[6]but it is of special interest that our hymnographers would have included particular references to the raising of Lazarus on the preceding Sunday. While these hymns were composed many centuries later, it is very interesting that the theme was both known and then incorporated into the texts.

The pericope of John 11:55 – 12:11 states: “Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him” (John 12:1-2). We see that by the Saturday before Palm Sunday, Lazarus had already been raised from the dead. Indeed, in John 11:47 – 54, we are informed about the meeting with Caiaphas which takes place afterLazarus is raised and beforethe Sabbath Day supper in Bethany.

The commemoration of Lazarus on Saturday, the day preceding Palm Sunday:

By the fourth century, the pilgrim traditions respecting Jerusalem and the Holy Land included Bethany, and specifically, both the house of Lazarus and his sisters, and the tomb of Lazarus which is located nearby. A church had been constructed at the location of the residence of Lazarus and his sisters, and a chapel was built at the entrance to the tomb (the church was either built upon the ruins of the former house or was a renovation of the house; the chapel was built at the entrance into the rock-hewn sepulcher)[7]. The pilgrim Etheria (also known as Aetheria, Egeria or even Sylvia) appears to be the first person to describe the liturgical observances at a place called the Lazarium. It must be emphasized, however, that the Lazarium is the church which was eventually constructed over the site of the houseof Lazarus, not his tomb. The tomb of Lazarus is located nearby the house, inside a hillock, and while there may have been occasion to enter into the tomb of Lazarus and to hold a brief service inside, the Holy Eucharist was offered inside the Lazarium house-church.[8]

Here is the description from The Pilgrimage of Etheria:

Chapter V


1. Saturday before Palm Sunday.--Station at Bethany.

Now when the seventh week has come, that is, when two weeks, including the seventh, are left before Easter, everything is done on each day as in the weeks that are past, except that the vigils of the sixth weekday, which were kept in the Anastasis during the first six weeks, are, in the seventh week, kept in Sion, and with the same customs that obtained during the six weeks in the Anastasis. For throughout the whole vigil Psalms and antiphons are said appropriate both to the place and to the day.

And when the morning of the Sabbath begins to dawn, the Bishop [of Jerusalem] offers the Oblation [= the Holy Eucharist]. And at the dismissal the archdeacon lifts his voice and says: "Let us all be ready to-day at the seventh hour in the Lazarium." And so, as the seventh hour approaches, all go to the Lazarium, that is, Bethany, situated at about the second milestone from the city. And as they go from Jerusalem to the Lazarium, there is, about five hundred paces from the latter place, a church in the street on that spot where Mary the sister of Lazarus met with the Lord.[9] Here, when the Bishop arrives, all the monks meet him, and the people enter the church, and one hymn and one antiphon are said, and that passage is read in the Gospel where the sister of Lazarus meets the Lord. Then, after prayer has been made, and when all have been blessed, they go thence with hymns to the Lazarium.

And on arriving at the Lazarium, so great a multitude assembles that not only the place itself, but also the fields around, are full of people. Hymns and antiphons suitable to the day and to the place are said, and likewise all the lessons are read.[10]Then, before the dismissal, notice is given of Easter, that is, the priest ascends to a higher place and reads the passage that is written in the Gospel: When Jesus six days before the Passover had come to Bethany,and the rest.[11]So, that passage having been read and notice given of Easter, the dismissal is made. This is done on that day because, as it is written in the Gospel, these events took place in Bethany six days before the Passover; there being six days from the Sabbath to the fifth weekday on which, after supper, the Lord was taken by night. Then all return to the city direct to the Anastasis, and Lucernaretakes place according to custom.[12]

As we can see, Etheria is describing a service which is specific to the day and to the place. It would appear that the Morning Hour of Prayer and the regular Holy Eucharist were offered in the Martyrium/Anastasis complex in Jerusalem as they are offered every Saturday morning. The Archdeacon then announces that everyone ought to travel out to Bethany to be ready at the Seventh Hour (approximately 1:00 PM). This hour of the afternoon indicates a connection with the time at which the primary meal of the day would have been served to Jesus and Lazarus by Martha (and presumably Mary). Etheria does not indicate that there was a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the Lazarium. The Synaxis on “Lazarus Saturday”, six days before the Passover (which according to John commences on Good Friday evening (John 19:14), is a commemoration of the Sabbath-day meal served in honor of Jesus Christ, with Lazarus, whom He loved and raised from the dead several days earlier, prominently seated at the table.

It is unclear what the fourth century liturgical tradition may have indicated for the readings at the Synaxis which precedes the offering of the Holy Eucharist on Saturday morning in the Martyrium/Anastasis complex in Jerusalem. If the raising of Lazarus were commemorated on the previous Sunday, then it is not necessarily the case that the lections at the Saturday morning Holy Eucharist would have been a repetition. I am currently investigating the “Saturday series” which was developed for the Great Lenten Fast[13], and hope to prepare a research paper on that subject soon.

According to the newer Lectionary,[14]on Saturday morning, at the conclusion of the Morning Hour of Prayer, the lections are as follows:

Psalms 28, 29, and 30: responsorial verse Psalm 30:3

Wisdom 10:9 – 20a

First Thessalonians 4:13 – 18

Alleluia Psalm 40: responsorial verse 2a-b

John 11:1 – 54

On Saturday, during the Midday Synaxis “Jashou”, which precedes the offering of the Holy Eucharist, the lections are as follows:

Psalms 28, 29, and 30: responsorial verse Psalm 30:3

Proverbs 14:27 – 35

First Thessalonians 4:13 – 18

Alleluia Psalm 40: responsorial verse 2a-b

John 11:55 – 12:11

We can see that the two sets of lections bear similarities. Certainly the Psalms and the Epistle are identical. The Gospel of John 11:55 – 12:11 is mostappropriate to the day and to the place, and therefore it is my respectful opinion that the lections for the Synaxis on the Saturday before Palm Sunday reflect the Sabbath-day meal in the home of Lazarus. The current lections which have been appended to the Morning Hour of Prayer appear to reflect a much later liturgical amendment, and may noteven be reflective of the older tradition for the regular cycle of Saturday observances throughout the year.

Here is the complete text for the Sabbath-day meal:

And the Jews' Passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.

Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, “What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?”

Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where He were, he should shew it, that they might take Him.

Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead.

There they made Him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.[15]

Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray Him,

“Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?”

This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

Then said Jesus, “Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.”

“For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”

Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead.

But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;

Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Let us summarize.

I am convinced that Lazarus was raised from the dead (John 11:1 – 45) several days before he hosted Jesus Christ in his home for the Sabbath-day meal, not on the same day that he was raised out of the tomb. The chronological explanation given by the Gospel of John includes a description of a meeting of the Jewish high priest and authorities (John 11:46 – 54) sometime between the day upon which Lazarus was raised and the Sabbath upon which Jesus dined in the home of Lazarus (John 12:1 – 11).

It would appear that the older layer of lections for the Sunday before Palm Sunday (now known as the Sixth Sunday of the Great Lenten Fast) is reflective of the sequential readings of Genesis, Isaiah, the Pastoral Epistles, and the Gospel of John at that time of the year. The hymns of the Sixth Sunday include specific references to the raising of Lazarus. The fourth-century pilgrim Etheria indicates that the Saturday before Palm Sunday was observed in the house-church of the Lazarium – not inside the tomb of Lazarus – and corroborating the connection between the Sabbath-day meal in the home.

Sometime in the late fourth century, Gregory of Nyssa preached a series of lectures on the Lord’s Prayer, and these lectures gained importance in the Church of the Armenians, so much so that the lections which Gregory cited in his lectures eventually superseded the older sequential lections of each Sunday. I am therefore inclined to believe that the commemoration of the actual raising of Lazarus was shifted to Saturday, first in order to accommodate the shift of readings from the Ninth Hour lecture to the Synaxis of Sunday, and second in order to make the entire day of Saturday reflective of all of the events connected with Lazarus (however chronologically incorrect and liturgically awkward that turned out to be).

Of course, I am not advocating that we abandon the current system until we have time to conduct a thorough analysis of all of the details. In the meantime, I am humbly asking that our clergy and our laity take the time to learn about the great sign[16]presented by Jesus Christ in the raising of His friend whom He loved. Let us restore the commemoration of Lazarus on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. We should read about the raising of Lazarus at the conclusion of the Morning Hour, we should read about the Sabbath-day meal during the Synaxis, and we should offer the Holy Eucharist on that Saturday.

In conclusion, let me emphasize that the events involving the raising of Lazarus confirm the solid Christological position of the Church of the Armenians. We believe that Jesus Christ is perfect GOD and becomes perfect human being. As the perfect human being, Jesus shares the grief of Martha and Mary, and according to the shortest sentence in the Bible, He weeps (John 11:35). The shedding of tears reflects the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ. Then, a moment later, in a loud voice, as perfect GOD, Jesus calls out, “Lazarus! Come forth!” (John 11:43).

The raising of Lazarus from the dead, the gift of Life, can only come from perfect GOD. There are some heretics who think that Jesus has the equivalent of an “on-off” switch: He is GOD at this moment, and then flicks the switch to be a human being the next moment. How preposterous! As one of the Holy Trinity, Jesus is the maker of the world and the creator of all that is in it, including the ultimate making and creating of the human being in the image and likeness of GOD. Jesus is not masquerading as a human being; He is not wearing the skin of a man. He IS perfect human because He Himself is the maker and the creator of the human being. For this reason, the Church commemorates not only the historic raising of Lazarus from the dead, but just as importantly, the Church professes the eternal Christology that Jesus Christ is the union of perfect GOD and of perfect human being. The perfect human being weeps upon hearing that a dear friend has fallen asleep, and perfect GOD has the ultimate power to restore that beloved friend – indeed, all of us – to life. As we profess in our expanded creedal formula, “There is no beginning of His Divinity and there is no termination to His humanity. For Jesus Christ, yesterday and today, the same and eternal”.[17]

[1]Awag Shabath-Avak Shapat, or The Ritual-book for the Great Week in the Church of the Armenians. New Julfa, Persia: Printing Press of the All-Saviour Monastery, 1895; pp. 1-114. This text largely reflects the later liturgical tradition of Jerusalem. In that regard, it should be noted that an accommodation is made on Palm Sunday morning to read about the raising of Lazarus, but in the context of a requiem service.

[2]The lections upon which Gregory of Nyssa based his sixth lecture are preserved today as the Synaxis lections for the Sixth Sunday of the Great Lenten Fast as follows:

Psalms 65, 66 and 67: responsorial verse Psalm 65:1

Isaiah 66:1 – 24

Mesodia Psalm 76: responsorial verse 11

Colossians 2:8 – 3:17

Alleluia Psalm 100, in full

Matthew 22:34 – 23:39

[3]In another paper which I have prepared, I discuss the sequential readings from Genesis as a base for the lectionary and dependent feast-days. On the Sunday preceding Palm Sunday, the sequential reading from Genesis would be from chapter 48, describing the blessing by Joseph upon his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. It is interesting to note that at the conclusion of the raising of Lazarus, “Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with His disciples” (John 11:54). I wonder about the connection between the Ephraim in Genesis and the Ephraim in John. It cannot merely be a coincidence.

[4]In Armenian, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazare! Arise! Come outside!” “Ghazare! Ari! Yeg ardaks!”

[5]Sharakan, or The Hymnal of the Church of the Armenians. Jerusalem: Printing Press of the Armenian Patriarchate of the Saints James, 1936; pp. 282 – 288. It should also be noted that the Tone to which these four verses are sung is exactly the Tone of that Sunday: “Pen-Tza” or the Second Authentic Tone. It is true that these same four verses are repeated on the following Saturday morning, but the Tone of “Lazarus Saturday” is “Ayp-Tza” or the First Authentic Tone, and these four verses are appended to another hymn which was composed according to the Tone of Saturday.

[6]Ibid., pp. 302 – 307.

[7]See for instance Barnabas Meistermann, New Guide to the Holy Land (New York: P. J. Kenedy and Sons, 1923; pp. 359 – 362) and Rivka Gonen, Biblical Holy Places: an illustrated guide (New York: Collier Books, MacMillan Publishing Company, 1987; pp. 50 – 52).

[8]Today, the ruins of the fourth century Lazarium are clearly visible. Immediately adjacent is the Latin (Roman Catholic) Church dedicated to Lazarus. Up the hill is the entrance into the cave which contains the tomb of Lazarus. The Greek Orthodox also have a separate church dedicated to Lazarus which is located on the other side of the hillock from the entrance to the tomb. The Armenians do not have a church dedicated to Lazarus in Bethany, and do not have sacramental rites inside any of the existing shrines.

[9]In John 11:20, it is Martha who first goes out of the house to meet Jesus; Mary, in fact, stays inside the house. Jesus proclaims to Martha: “I am the Resurrection and the Life”. Then, when Martha returns to the house, she tells Mary that “the Master is come and calls for you”, at which point Mary goes out of the house to meet Jesus; John 11:28 – 32.

[10]Etheria does not specify the lections. See the two sets of lections which our Church proclaims at the Morning and at the Synaxis, below p. 9.

[11]This is the passage John 12:1 – 11.

[12]M. L. McClure and C. L. Feltoe, ed. and trans.The Pilgrimage of Etheria. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1919; pp. 63 – 64.

[13]In the early centuries of Christianity, particularly in those areas under the hegemony of the Church of Ephesus and the Johannine Tradition, there were pious groups of people who were known as hebdomedariesor apotactitesand who were renowned for their strict observance of five-day fasting periods, every week of the year, from Sunday sunset to Saturday sunrise. On Saturday morning, therefore, they would gather for the offering of the Holy Eucharist, and after receiving Holy Communion, would break their fast. Little is known about the exact details of these Saturday morning services, and that is the focus of my next paper. Thank you for your support of my research!

[14]Chashoc Girq-Jashots Kirk, or the Lectionary of the Church of the Armenians. Jerusalem: Printing Press of the Armenian Patriarchate of the Saints’ James, 1967; pp.157 – 160.

[15]A parallel episode is described in the Synoptics, but cited in a different home (that of Simon the Leper in Bethany) and performed by a woman named Mary, but different from Mary, the sister of Martha. See Matthew 26:6 – 13; Mark 14:3 – 9; and Luke 7:36 – 50.

[16]Most scholars divide the Gospel of John into four parts:

The Prologue, chapter 1

The Book of Signs, chapters 2 through 12 (called “Girq Nshanac / Kirk Nshanats”)

The Book of Glories, chapters 13 through 20 (called “Girq Pharrac / Kirk Parrats”)

The Epilogue, chapter 21

The raising of Lazarus is considered to be the apex of the Book of Signs.

[17]From the creedal formula ascribed to Gregory of Tathev / Datev; Hebrews 13:8


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